How To Write a Novel — Leaving

Day 60 of writing my novel in public

Photo by Sharon Yanai on Unsplash

I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.

If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.

Day 60 — Leaving

The last few sequences in the novel have been action-filled as Charlie first discovered about the bomb and then investigated the zoo. Today’s writing will be a change of pace as Charlie and Sandy prepare to leave the zoo and find that their dad has received a postcard from their mum telling him she is leaving him.

One problem I identify with my writing is pacing. Everything always feels a little too breathless, as though I have to steam ahead. When I come to the revision, I will look at how to slow things down in the right places and build the tension properly where needed. In the first draft, however, I don’t want to be worrying too much about that, or it will stop the flow of the writing.

These are the story threads for today.

  • Charlie’s dad arrives to take Sandy and Charlie away.
  • Dad thanks Staghorn for helping Charlie and Sandy.
  • A postcard has arrived at the house whilst Charlie was in The Smell Tower telling Charlie’s dad she has found someone else.

Against the clock

In order to write most efficiently, I’m setting a timer for fifteen minutes and writing until it goes off. Three bursts should give me about 750 words.

“Thanks,” said Charlie, “You really have a way with animals, don’t you.”

“You just have to listen,” said Sandy.

“But they’re just grunts. I could listen as hard as I like, but I’d never understand them.”

“It’s hard to explain. They talk in their own way, not like we do. I just sort of know what they are saying.”

“Are you two coming?” shouted Staghorn from up ahead.

Charlie and Sandy rushed to catch up.

They made their way back to the lifts and Charlie turned before going in to look back at the zoo. There was a much louder cacophony of animal noises than when they entered. Everywhere he looked he could see something scurrying through the vegetation.

Sandy took his hand. “Come on, they’re okay now,” she said, leading him into the lift.

Charlie was ready to collapse back into his bed when he reached his bedroom but Staghorn insisted they start packing.

“I’m going to call your dad and ask him to come pick you both up straight away. Miasmus is not going to be pleased when he finds out what you did in his zoo, and you’ve finished the cupcakes now so there’s no need to stay.”

Charlie wanted to protest that they weren’t finished yet. He needed to find out more about the bomb. Where was it? What did it look like? Could he destroy it before Miasmus could use it?

But he was so tired, and the thought of dad coming and taking them home was so lovely that he said nothing.

Half an hour later Sandy, Woofy and Charlie stood outside The Smell Tower with their things packed waiting. Their dad pulled the car up and was mobbed by the three of them as soon as he stepped out.

“Glad to see you missed me,” he said, fending off Woofy who stood on his back legs wanting to dance with him.

“Don’t I get a goodbye?,” said Staghorn as they opened the car doors.

Sandy rushed up to her and jumped into her arms.

“Lucky I did my weights training this morning,” she said, spinning her round and dropping her lightly onto the pavement.

Woofy trotted over and licked Staghorn’s hand. Then it was Charlie’s turn. He offered his hand to shake, but Staghorn gathered him up into her arms. The loose-knit jumper she was wearing smelt of yellow flower heads dancing on the breeze.

“Thanks for looking after them,” said Dad as they climbed into the car.

“I would say that they were no problem, but it wouldn’t be true. Looking out for them was my pleasure though,” said Staghorn.

As soon as they set off, Charlie started to explain everything to his dad. All about how he had found Miasmus had a secret stink lab full of all the things that had been stolen, and how Sandy had been caged in the zoo where the smelly animals kept her company.

Dad didn’t say anything, just listened. When they arrived home, and bundled everything inside, he was still quiet.

“What’s wrong dad?” said Charlie.

His dad didn’t say anything but took a postcard from where it had been stuck next to the others on the fridge. It was from Charlie’s mum, addressed to his dad. Rather than the usual bright, adventurous pictures on the front, this one showed a panda with a very sorrowful expression. Charlie turned it over and read.

March, I hope that this postcard finds you well. And that the children and Woofy are all good too. I’m sorry I haven’t written to you recently but I didn’t know how to tell you.

Since going on on my trip, I have realised that you and I don’t share the same dreams. I want to travel the world and see everything. You want to stop at home and play at being a detective. And that’s fine.

But it means that I won’t be coming back. I’ve met a brilliant contortionist in a travelling circus in Prague and she’s asked me to join her act. We are touring China as the Bendy Girls.

We hope to come to Australia soon so I can see Charlie and Sandy, but I don’t yet know when.

All the best,


Charlie gave the postcard to Sandy to read, then opened his arms and offered his dad a hug, but Dad just shook his head and climbed the steps to bed.


Today was slightly under the goal, at only 736 words. In fact when I began today I didn’t think I had enough to write about the leaving scene, and so I had added in some additional story threads from the next part where Charlie persuades his dad to go to the launch. But in the end the writing naturally came to a stop where Charlie reads his mum is not coming back to Dad.

Total words so far 30,944.

Tomorrow I write the scene where Charlie persuades his dad to go to the launch event.

Please subscribe to get the full series as I write it.

If you want to try the process with me and write your own novel, I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Put in the comments on how you went with this step.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *